Eat the Rainbow
Could you imagine if food was all one color? That would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it! It would also lack considerable nutrition. If you ask me, the more color, the better – so eat the rainbow with this spicy, taco bowl! Not only are vibrant colors visually appealing on a plate, but they also provide special nutrients for our body that are different than simply vitamins and minerals.
REAL, WHOLE FOODS like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes contain special plant chemicals called ‘phytonutrients.’ These are naturally occurring compounds which protect the plant from environmental challenges such as insects and other predators, ultraviolet rays from the sun, and they can help to boost the immunity of the plant. In turn, when we eat plants rich in phytonutrients, we too, reap similar benefits.
For example, when we eat foods rich in lycopene (from tomatoes, watermelon and red peppers), a plant chemical that shields it from the sun, we too can enjoy added protection from the sun.
Phytonutrients provide plants with their color, smell and flavor. There are thousands of phytonutrients and we are just beginning to understand them. Some of the names you’ve probably heard before are antioxidants, polyphenols, carotenoids, anthocyanidins, and catechins.
Let’s explore the rainbow of phytonutrients you’ll find in this taco bowl because there’s a ton! I’ve highlighted in bold the ingredient used so you can easily identify the benefit.
Phytonutrient + Health Benefit: lycopene –> cancer protective (especially of the prostate), supports a healthy heart and can even act as natural sunscreen when eaten daily for three months
Kinds of food: tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit, guava, pomegranate, red pepper
Helpful tip: To get maximum lycopene dosage from tomatoes, be sure to crush them, heat them, and add a little olive oil to unleash the goodness (aka – make a tomato sauce)
Phytonutrient + Health Benefit: anthoxanthins and allicins –> cancer fighting, help lower cholestoral and blood pressure, antiviral, antimicrobial
Kinds of food: bananas, cauliflower, garlic, onion, parsnip, jicama, ginger, mushrooms
Phytonutrient + Health Benefit: anthocyanins –> protect your body from cell damage, improve memory function, reduce risk of heart disease, cancer fighting
Kinds of food: blueberries, eggplants, cabbage (purple), figs, plums, prunes, onions (red)
Phytonutrient + Health Benefit: chlorophyl and/or lutein–> alkalyzing, detoxifying, protect from cancer, and support eye health
Kinds of food: broccoli, cilantro, cabbage, green onions, apples, jalapeno pepper, limes
Phytonutrient + Health Benefit: carotenoids (beta-carotene) –> immune boosting, promotes skin and bone health, and healthy vision, plus help reduce risk of cancer and heart disease
Kinds of food: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, squash, cantaloupe, apricots, corn, mango
Eat the Rainbow, Spicy Taco Bowl with Lemon Cashew Sauce and Mango Salsa
- 2 cups cannellini beans, soaked and boiled ahead
- ¾ head purple cabbage, shredded
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- 2 cups rice, brown or white
- ¾ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp ghee (or other cooking oil)
- ½ tbsp chili powder
- ¾ tsp paprika
- 3 tbsp Sriracha sauce (choose brand with no sugar added)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 servings DIY mango salsa (click title for recipe)
- 1 cup DIY lemon cashew sauce (click title for recipe)
- Prepare rice, set aside
- Prepare the mango salsa, allow to chill in refrigerator
- Prepare the cashew sauce, set aside
- In skillet, melt ghee or other cooking fat
- Add cannellini beans, Sriracha, chili powder, paprika and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Allow flavors to combine and warm. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Shred cabbage and chop scallions.
- In a large bowl, combine beans, rice, mango salsa, cabbage and scallions.
- Drizzle cashew sauce over bowl. Serve and enjoy!
Protein swap: Choose any other bean in place of the cannellini or add shrimp, chicken or beef
Easy digestion: In addition to beans, rice can also be soaked for 1-2 hours before cooking to reduce phytic acid in the grains
What are some of your favorite vibrant colored foods? How do they make you feel?
This recipe was created by Jessica Yeager, CNE <–click the pink and come hang out on FB with me!